Manchester bypass alternatives lead to objections from residents

Some at meeting say plan won't relieve congestion

June 29, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Many of the 150-plus residents who crowded a public information meeting last night denounced proposed state alternatives to a Manchester bypass.

Several people said the plan to add left-turn lanes and remove parking spaces on Route 30, the main street through the northern Carroll County town, was a Band-Aid approach and wouldn't resolve traffic congestion.

"The bypass is the only way to alleviate congestion," said Ted Miller, who chairs Manchester's Board of Zoning Appeals and was among the speakers at the meeting at Manchester Elementary School.

He also said the alternatives, estimated to cost about $7 million, did not address issues such as pollution, wear and tear on the downtown business district, and the potential for road rage.

State transportation officials began looking for bypass alternatives after a proposed four-lane highway was abandoned in January. The governor deemed the bypass inconsistent with Maryland's Smart Growth plan and said it would lead to more suburban sprawl.

An estimated 60 percent to 70 percent of the 18,000 daily commuters entering or passing through Manchester are believed to be from Pennsylvania, state officials said. They contribute to mile-long backups on the two-lane road.

Manchester Mayor Chris D'Amario and state highway officials stressed last night that no decisions have been made on alternatives.

"The proposed improvements are for short term and won't solve the long-term problems," D'Amario said. "But the best plan for Manchester's future may be this project, plus going for the bypass in the long term."

Many speakers, including state Del. Joseph M. Getty, a Manchester attorney, said all local and state politicians except Gov. Parris N. Glendening have supported the town's bid for a bypass.

"Unfortunately, he's the one who holds the pocketbook," he said.

Short-term solutions outlined include improving the timing of traffic signals on Route 30, adding left-turn lanes and removing about 20 parking spaces on the east side of Main Street near York Street to accommodate traffic traveling north during the evening rush hour.

Such changes would require minimal expense for signs and re- striping and could be completed by August, said Marsha Kaiser, state transportation director.

Within three years, morning backups on southbound Route 30 at the north part of town could be alleviated by 80 percent if a right-turn lane at Route 27 is lengthened to 1,000 feet, Kaiser said.

That would require removing a house closest to the northwest corner of the intersection and securing a strip of land to build the right-turn lane from property owned by a nursing care facility.

Sandra Martin, operator of Long View Nursing Home on Route 30, expressed concern last night for the many elderly visitors and 125 residents and employees who must turn into the property.

Other longer-term solutions involve restructuring Main Street and renovating adjacent sidewalks, using a gravel underlay to reduce vibrations from truck traffic.

Pub Date: 6/29/99

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